A petty thief posing as an actor is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl and a detective who's been training him for his upcoming role...Written by
In its initial release, this never expanded beyond one hundred sixty-nine screens, hence its disappointing box-office numbers. See more »
When Harry and Harmony are talking in the Domino Room, Harry points out the punk rocker who resembles Steven Seagal saying "at your 11 o'clock", on her left, but he points and she looks to her right. See more »
And that's how she got to the same party as me. Oh shit. I skipped something. Damn it. This whole robot bit. I made a big deal, then I like totally forgot. Fuck, this is bad narrating. Like my dad telling a joke. "Oh, wait back up. I forgot to tell you the cowboy rode a blue horse." Fuck. Anyway, I don't know if you want to see it now, but here's the fucking robot stuff for your viewing pleasure. Can I say "fuck" more?
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After the credits, the Warner Brothers logo appears to melt as if this part of the film was left in front of the bulb too long. See more »
Funny, stylish, enjoyable self-aware and delivered by a great combination of Downey and Kilmer
Having stumbled into a casting session, petty thief Harry Lockhart has found himself flown to LA to try out for the lead in a major film. This also involves parties, at one of which he meets "Gay" Perry, a PI who acts as an adviser on such movies. When Harry joins Perry on a stake-out to learn the job they wind up balls-deep in mystery when they recover a dead body from the trunk of a dumped car. They leave the body and go their separate ways, but the body then turns up in Harry's bathroom and Perry realises that it is a setup. Coincidentally Harry's childhood sweetheart (Harmony) has her younger sister turn up in LA before committing suicide. She turns to Harry for help who, in a fit of puppy love, tells her he is a private detective. But with so many bodies all at once, are the cases as separate as they first appear?
Having spent a bit of time in the wilderness since his glory days, Shane Black returned to the screens properly as writer and director with an effective film that works surprisingly well in the genre he dominates while also poking fun at it. The plot is a real strength as it updates the potboilers of the 1940's with a complex string of "unrelated" murders that build together to a relatively satisfying conclusion. Sure it is full of holes at points and lacks some logic in the way it jumps around but it flows really well. However what really makes the film work is the post-ironic and fun delivery throughout. To some viewers I'm sure that it will be a bit too knowing but for me it was tremendously self-effacing fun. This is never done to the detriment of the narrative although some people may be disappointed that it takes precedence over traditional action (which it is quite light on).
Black does well with this though and his dialogue is full of great one-liners (as I expected) but also a lot of knowing references to the genre and the clichés that he helped create (which I didn't expect). What was pretty surprising was how well it all worked together. As director he has injected a lot of style into the film and is well supported by really cool opening credits, some wicked black humour and a strong soundtrack. Of course it wouldn't have worked without a cast that "got" what he was doing and fortunately his casting director got him two great leads. Downey Jr is brilliant. His narration is very natural and convincing and he really brings out the humour in his lines. In the rest of the film he is just as strong and is really fun. Kilmer is equally as good albeit in a smaller role; he is smart, tough and yet able to work well with his genre-busting character. They both work really well together and their chemistry produces a real energy. The support cast are good but not as strong. Monaghan is sexy but has to carry a lot of the narrative; Bernsen is merely a face; Miller has a small turn but generally everyone is in the shadown of Kilmer, Downey and Black.
Overall this is not a perfect film and those that don't like Black or the genre will probably not get it but it is still a lot of fun. Never taking itself seriously is a strong point and Black's writing is sharp and funny while his direction is stylish and cool. Downey Jr and Kilmer are both very strong and take to the material really well, bringing out plenty of energy and laughs. A really fun film that is affectionately mocking towards the genre.
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